The North Queensland Cowboys have edged out South Sydney 20-18 in a National Rugby League thriller in Townsville on Saturday night, while the injury-ravaged Wests Tigers battled to a brave 19-18 win over Canberra in an enthralling encounter in Sydney.
The Cowboys were spearheaded by Johnathan Thurston, playing his first game at halfback since 2011, who ignited the hosts from the first whistle as he laid on two tries and had a hand in a third.
The representative playmaker ambushed the Rabbitohs as the Cowboys raced out to a 14-0 lead in less than nine minutes of action.
The Cowboys led 20-6 at half-time before three penalties swung momentum back in South Sydney's favour, then Jason Clark scored a try and fullback Greg Inglis scored another to narrow the margin to just two.
But that was the final score in Townsville.
At Campbelltown Stadium, the Tigers finished the game with 14 players after losing James Tedesco, Sauaso Sue (shoulder) and Tim Simona (concussion) and withheld a barrage of second half pressure from the Raiders before Braith Anasta's late field goal sealed the two points.
But the win came at a cost with Tedesco's season looking like it may be over after he fractured his kneecap in the opening 10 seconds of the game.